Following the emergency motion passed by local Livesey ward Councillors Richard Livingstone and Michael Situ at the deputation on 12th July, residents begin applying to move via the Southwark Homesearch system, where they are invited to 'bid' on a selection of properties within the borough which are advertised on a weekly basis. Unfortunately this means that Ledbury Estate residents are going to be bidding against each other in many cases. We called this into question with Southwark Council and were told that there was really no alternative, unless tenants were willing to accept 'Direct Offers' - meaning that they would not have the opportunity to select a home and area of their choosing, they would instead simply be allocated a property. To date, there is still no resolution on this issue.
Under the current Homesearch bidding system, residents can view properties via the Homesearch website as they become available weekly on a Thursday. They then have until Sunday midnight to place a bid. Residents do not have to place a bid each week, they are encouraged only to bid if they believe a property will suit their needs. Southwark Council operates a 'refusals policy' whereby if a residents bids for a property, and is successful, but then turns the property down - they are given a penalty. If they refuse 3 properties, they are demoted to Band four - the lowest possible priority where they are unlikely to ever be re-housed.
Residents report difficulty in being able to apply to join the Homesearch system. A team of Housing Officers are brought on-site to work at the Ledbury TRA hall and assist residents in applying to join the Homesearch register. Residents report multiple episodes of 'gatekeeping' by these officers - being told repeatedly that they must provide absurd amounts of documentation to be able to join the register. Other residents are told to apply online, yet discover that the website takes them round and round in circles, finding it nigh on impossible to join. Some residents tell us how they feel they are treated like 'second class citizens' when speaking to the housing staff, who have 'bad attitudes and do not treat residents with respect.' Numerous residents tell us they have ended up in tears in the TRA hall due to sheer frustration and lack of help. We resolve to find Independent Observers to be available to join residents at the TRA hall if they request it.